An Israeli minister close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday that the US will never attack Iran’s nuclear program and that Israel might act on its own.
“The United States will never attack the nuclear facilities in Iran. Israel must decide whether it will accept a nuclear Iran,” Tzachi Hanegbi, who currently serves as the minister for settlement affairs, told Israel’s Kan broadcaster. “Israel will be forced to act independently to remove this danger.”
Last month, Hanegbi threatened an attack on Iran’s nuclear program if the Biden Administration returns to the nuclear deal. The Likud minister’s comments are some of the most direct public threats made by an Israeli official.
While Hanegbi doesn’t have the power as the settlement minister to order an attack, threatening comments have also been coming from Israeli military officials. On Monday, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said a military option against Iran was still on the table for Israel.
Last week, Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff Avi Kohavi said he ordered the military to draw up fresh plans to attack Iran and expressed his opposition to the new US administration reviving the JCPOA.
The Israeli officials frame attacks on Iran as the only way to stop the Islamic Republic’s race towards a nuclear bomb. While Iranian officials have repeatedly said they have no interest in acquiring nuclear weapons, the Israelis point to recent increases in uranium enrichment and stockpiles of low-enriched uranium as evidence that they do seek a bomb.
The increased uranium enrichment and stockpiles have a civilian purpose and are also a direct result of the US withdrawing from the JCPOA in 2018. If the Biden administration lifts sanctions on Iran, Tehran would quickly comply with the JCPOA by scaling back its enrichment.